Tsangarada – Damouchari – Fakistra October 17th 2010
Tsangarada was a popular destination on this Sunday morning; at least two coach parties arrived on the Ag Paraskevi plateia at the same time as our walking group. It wasn’t too difficult to distinguish between the walkers and those enjoying a coach tour of Pelion. Some had started stretching exercises and donned clothing appropriate for the Tsangarada Autumn sunshine.
Meanwhile the walkers were preparing in their own way, standing chatting and comparing the size of their rucksacks! As with most of our walks, especially Tsangarada ( I’m not complaining) we set off downhill on the kalderimi. The walk took us through the red, gold and green of the Tsangarada forest, Autumn sunshine magnificent and all shining through.
We walked 90 minutes or so before arriving above Damouchari where we looked across and down on the two bays. I could just make out Meryl Streep splashing around in the surf. Further along the coast we could see Papa Nero and Aghios Ioannis. At this point we took a right on the path to Fakistra, initially downhill then a little scramble uphill a lovely area this, with wonderful rock formations and quite a large area where calcified deposits were building up, a mini Pammukale.
Wild flowers were abundant and several orchids were seen, including “Ladies Tresses” which is notable for its twisted flower. The path soon became easier to follow then we emerged close to the road above Fakistra. Here was the secret sign to the Secret School! Now this is one school which should be compulsory! It’s a five minute walk downhill on a new kalderimi then onto a rough path, across a rickety rackety bridge, look out for the gaps and the Troll! With a metal railing on your left you look down a couple of hundred feet to the rocks below. It was very exciting to see the caves. On the right is a cave at head height, it’s necessary to scramble up to it. On the left side of the cave is what is believed to be the Secret School, not much evidence remains of it other than the beams which formed the door. On the crossbeam writing carved into the beam can still be seen clearly. Going back down to the path and just a couple of metres away is another cave with a small entrance possibly 1.5 metres high, part of the original door leans against the inside wall. Inside, the cave is no more than 3 metres by 3 metres, it is in fact the Chapel of Panagias of Megalomatas the smallest Chapel I’ve seen. It’s decorated with religious icons and, given where it is situated, is quite stunning. The view to the craggy rocks rising from the Aegean, from the small windows in both the School and Chapel are wonderful. Doris told us, children who attended the school at the time of the Turkish occupation arrived by boat.
About 10 of the group went down to Fakistra for a swim the sea still being quite warm.
Eventually we all met up at The Lost Unicorn for a very fine lunch prepared by Claire, Christos and their staff.
Thanks to Doris for organising the walk and providing a host of local knowledge during the walk.
Thanks to Julie for sharing her photos.
Derek & Gill